Share this project


Share this project

Trials of Ascension: A truly innovative MMORPG (Canceled) project video thumbnail
Replay with sound
Play with

An immersive sandbox MMORPG gaming experience for players brave enough to step outside the industry mold!

An immersive sandbox MMORPG gaming experience for players brave enough to step outside the industry mold! Read More
pledged of $750,000 goal

Funding Canceled

Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator on November 10, 2013.

About this project

Read our interview on

Update #15 - Until Next Time!

Update #14 - Details of a Spell

Update #13 - Exploring The Depths

Update #12 - Falling - For Your Entertainment

Update #11 - Poem of the Pickthorn Ghost

Update #9 - The Mighty Mawktopus!

Update #8 - Concealment

Update #7 - A New Player Race and Graywalkers: Purgatory

Update #6 - Kicking It Forward, An Endorsement, FAQ Update, and an Interview!

Update #5 - Day/Night Cycle

All/Earlier Updates

What is Trials of Ascension?

Trials of Ascension is a player-driven, sandbox MMO set in the fantasy world of TerVarus that challenges some of the conventions of the modern MMO with unique features. It will allow the player a lot of latitude to change the game world and tell their own story instead of just churning through pre-scripted content set up by the developers. You’ll be building and running kingdoms, forming alliances, harvesting resources, crafting goods, exploring the wilderness, and waging war. We won’t be telling you what to do with your character or in what order, that’s up to you. Sure, you’ll need food and water to survive, but the rest of your endeavors will be governed by your own desires and your interactions with other players. We’ll give you plenty of backstory and lore about the world of TerVarus to get the ball rolling, but the real story will be uncovered and told by the players. There aren’t going to be any NPC quests, but you can bet your fellow players will need your help collecting resources, transporting goods, defending the settlement and exploring TerVarus, so there will be plenty to do, and we’ll top it off with an ever-present team of Game Masters that are charged with interacting with you to spice things up, which might be familiar to some of you old-timers.

We really wanted to focus on individuality, so ToA features skill-based progression. No classes, no levels, just individual skills that you raise by using those skills. There are over 40 unique skills planned for Trials of Ascension at launch, and you’re free to mix and match them any way you want, so there are plenty of options to make your character unique. Wanna mix a bit of culinary with a bit of swords? No problem, go on and start using those two skills and you’ll get better at them. Want to really specialize in interrogation and just dabble in stealing and lockpicking? Great. Wanna be a jack-of-all-trades? Go for it!

Each skill also has one or more techniques that allow you further specialization within that skill and you go up the ladder. For example, the blacksmithing skill will have forming, tempering and balancing techniques. As your blacksmithing skill increases, you’ll be able to enhance one or more of these techniques and reap the benefits.In the case of crafting, players with high level of specialization in different techniques will be able to cooperate with one another to create masterwork items. [learn more]

Ever stumble upon something unexpected while exploring in an MMO? Monsters you've never seen or heard of? A dungeon that's not on the map? New species of flora with as-of-yet unknown medicinal purposes? Probably not. But that's the kind of thing that's going to happen a lot in ToA, thanks to dynamic spawning. Dynamic spawning gives us devs and our GMs a toolkit to control everything from the number of trees that spawn in a certain biome (after you've cut down the originals for lumber) and how fast, to where a camp of orcs might take root and how many of them show up before an orc chieftain hits the scene. And the great thing is, we can keep 'em moving. Once you rout that orc camp they will be GONE. But you can be sure that another challenge or discovery awaits you in another location, just when you least expect it. Not to mention that GMs will be able to drop in prebuilt dungeons at hidden locations, full of danger and mystery, and accessible for only limited amounts of time before collapsing! [learn more]

Combat in MMOs has a reputation for being... well, awful. Standing there, mashing some hot keys, locking onto a giant rat and whacking it every, oh, 3-4 seconds between spells of inexplicable torpor. We're going for something much more fluid, intuitive, and skill-based for ToA. At its most basic level, it boils down to right-click to attack with your weapon, left-click to guard with your shield. AND YOU HAVE TO AIM. No AFK combat here. We spice it up by giving you the ability to dodge with a little double-tap of the movement keys. Then things really get interesting when you mix in some of the techniques you've picked up as you've advanced your weapon skill. These get assigned to 1 of 5 hot-keys, which will toggle them on and off as the active strategy for your next strike. Things like a "disarm" strike that attempts to knock your opponent's weapon loose. But be aware, every strike has it's counter, and a seasoned opponent will be reading your every move to try to stay one step ahead of you! [learn more]

We’re handling death unlike any game out there. Each character will start with 100 life counters, and lose one upon each death. When you character loses their last life counter, they’re gone. Done. Kaput. Sound cruel? We think it’ll grow on you. Why implement something so Draconian? We really want to change the way you make decisions in the game and the meanings of your actions. Most MMOs these days have very few consequences for death. The result is mindless zergs and a bloat of high-level characters vying for minor advantages by collecting overpowered items. With our 100-life limit, every decision you make counts, and no one can be top dog forever. ToA will be open PvP, but the decisions you make about which fights you pick will probably go a long way in determining how long your character is able to survive. Taking it a step further, we’re getting rid of conning so you won’t be able to judge how strong your opponents are just by clicking on them. Is that character in ragged clothes a novice or a powerful mage in disguise? That’s your risk to take, but know that guessing wrong could cost you a life counter. The death system is fundamental to ToA’s design, and we think that the more you learn about the game the more you’ll see how essential it is. [learn more]

ToA isn't just about fighting. Far from it! Crafters will have their hands full trying to keep everyone fed, clothed, armed, and housed. You will not see the MMO tradition of 'combine, click, create' in ToA. Nearly every item will require a multi-step process, each of which may offer the crafter options to enhance the item based on the techniques he has learned. Collaboration between skilled specialists will be essential to creating the highest quality of items, known as masterwork items. Want to leave your mark in the world as a crafter? I mean literally leave your mark? You can! You can place a makers mark on each and every item you help craft, letting people all over TerVarus know who made that item they love so much! [learn more]

One of the features that we’re really excited about is our Innovations system. This is something that we don’t think anybody else is doing, and it really goes a long way to making your character unique. Every time your character uses a skill they’ll have a chance of discovering an Innovation relevant to that skill that is rare and possibly unique on your server. Think of it like a “eureka” moment. That Innovation will be something your character can use to, say, do something new in combat, or enhance a craftable item, or create a new type of item altogether. The exciting part is that it’s up to you whether you share your knowledge with other players, and at what price. Be forewarned, some skilled players will be able to extract Innovations from a player via the interrogation skill, but it won’t be easy. Not only do Innovations make for exciting gameplay and character development, they also allow an avenue for us developers to organically introduce a ton of new content into the game over time.
[learn more]

Forget everything you know about magic in MMOs, because we’re doing it differently. Magic in ToA is rare, and if you want to be a mage you’re going to have to earn it. That means crafting your own spellbook for starters. To learn spells, you’ll have to travel the dangerous wilds of TerVarus in search of powerful arcane creatures, vanquish them, then find the required components to cast the spells they bestow. The spells you can acquire vary widely in their effects, but believe me, they will be VERY powerful. Enhance your spells over time and they can become truly awesome. It’s a long and dangerous road to mage-dom, but a rewarding one. If you manage to get there, be prepared to attract a lot of attention, both good and bad. Entire settlements may vie for your allegiance, or place an exorbitant bounty on your head. It won’t be for everyone, but it’ll definitely be an exciting challenge for the brave few.
[learn more]

The kingdom and its settlement(s) are the absolute core of gameplay in ToA. Sure, some of you are all about playing the loner, the bandit, the man above the law and, well... good luck. Seriously, good luck, we'd love to have some of you succeed at that! But for pretty much everyone else, the settlement is where you put down your roots, build your private home, meet like-minded folks, and begin your adventures in TerVarus. It'll be the place where you find your favorite crafters, cooks, merchants and doctors and hear about the latest innovations. And most of all, with the help of NPC guards your king, queen, or lord has hired, it'll be a safe refuge in the dangerous world of TerVarus. You'll form a deep sense of pride and commitment to your settlement as you get to know the people there, defend it from marauding monsters, and repel the advances of kingdoms with imperialist ambitions. We think that settlement pride is something that many players will carry with them from character to character, choosing to restart after permadeath in the same place where they last hung their hat.

Itching to strike out and create your own kingdom with a few comrades? In ToA, all you need is a few skilled friends to strike into the wild and find a new place to declare your home and dominion. That part's easy. Then you begin the hard work of constructing your settlement while defending it from other kingdoms with expansion on their mind along with untold creatures looking to snack on a citizen or three. [learn more]

All structures in ToA, ranging from small wooden houses to the largest of stone keeps, will be player built, owned, and maintained. This means you can buy your plot of land, choose the type of home you want and contract with local crafters to build it for you. Once they've done their part, which could take some time because they have to actually build it (no insta-inflatable housing here!), you're free to move in and decorate your house just the way you like it. [learn more]

We could go on a heck of a lot longer talking about all of the features and nuances you'll find in the game, from the reputation system that thwarts ganking to how different healing is, but instead I’m going to encourage you to read all about the ins and outs of the game on our website.

------------------------------ Follow us on Facebook and Twitter! ------------------------------

 Brian Fargo of inXile Entertainment master-minded the idea of the "Kicking It Forward" concept and we love love love the idea, so we're jumping in with both feet!

Once Trials of Ascension launches, we promise to pledge 5% of our profits to other Kickstarter projects that, like us, are looking to and believe in their audience to fund their dreams.

We consider these add-ons to be incredibly special and want to make them available only to those that believe in us the most - our backers.  That is why we are only making these items available during our Kickstarter. In other words...


To purchase add-ons:

Click the "Manage Pledge" button at the top of this page.  If you haven’t backed our Kickstarter yet, the button will read "Back This Project". There is no need to change your current pledge tier unless you also want to change it while you are on this screen.

Increase your pledge in the "Pledge Amount" box by the total dollar amount of the add-on(s) you wish to purchase minus the number of add-on points that comes with your reward tier.

For example, you want to pledge at the $75 Expert tier. That tier gives you 10 add-on points. You decide you want a firefly (and who wouldn't?!) for $15, a ten pack of bless scrolls for $24, and two treasure maps for $3 each. That means you need to pledge an extra $45, but since you already have 10 add-on points from your tier reward, you'll only need to pledge an extra $35.

Please note that all add-ons require a base pledge of $25 or higher.

When our Kickstarter campaign concludes you will receive a survey that will allow you to select how you would like to spend your add-on points.

We’re asking for $750,000 dollars to produce ToA.  This budget would have been laughable for an MMO when we were first developing ToA back in the early-2000s, but with our “less is more” design approach, incredible tools like the HeroEngine, and our head-start on development, we’re confident that we can meet our goals within that budget.

We’ve got a great start going with the team we have, but we can't do it all ourselves.  That's why the bulk of your pledges will go toward hiring additional staff to flesh out our team, as well as securing office space and the necessary hardware to get them rolling.  About 10% of your pledges will cover the Amazon and Kickstarter fees and another roughly 5-7% will go toward reward fulfillment.

Risks and challenges

A project of this scope and complexity comes with inherent risks. We plan on mitigating those risks by using the experience we gained while building ToA's first prototype combined with the skills of industry specialists that we'll bring onto our team with our Kickstarter funds.

Additionally, we are using incredibly powerful development tools such as the HeroEngine that allow us to iterate quickly and effectively, therefore cutting development time dramatically.

Finally, we are developing the most important and vital systems first, all the while ensuring there is a zero-sum increase on the scope of the project.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter


  • All dates are from the close of the Kickstarter:

    Forum badge - 1 month

    postcard - 2 months
    silver beta coin - 2 months
    beta gold coin - 2 months
    alpha coin - 2 months

    digital poster - 3 months

    t-shirt - 6 months
    poster - 6 months
    tombstone - 6 months
    cloth map - 6 months
    concept art - 6 months
    design an artifact - 6 months
    voice recording - 6 months

    alpha access - 10 months

    beta gold access - 13 months

    silver beta access - 16 months

    in-game tabard - 18 months
    name in monolith - 18 months
    npc name - 18 months
    digital concept art - 18 months
    in-game house - 18 months
    in-game headstone - 18 months
    unique crest - 18 months
    custom statue - 18 months
    monument - 18 months
    starting settlement - 18 months
    visit studio - 18 months
    wall art - 18 months

    digital collectors book - 20 months
    collectors book - 20 months

    Last updated:
  • ToA will be free to download. We will offer all new players a month of access to the full game for free. After that you will have 3 options:

    1. A monthly subscription, which we expect to cost around $12.

    2. Pre-paid game time. With this option, you will purchase a certain number of hours of game time. When you log in, we will deduct from your pre-paid game time for each minute you play, up to one hour. After one hour, you will not be charged for any further game time within a 24 hour period of the start of your play session, even if you play more than that. In other words, if you play ToA for five minutes within a 24 hour period, five minutes will be deducted from your game time balance. However, if you play ToA for six hours, only 60 minutes will be deducted from your game time balance. We haven't decided on pricing here, but it's intended as an economical option for the player who has more limited play-time.

    3. Writs of Time. A Writ of Time will cost roughly $18 and can be redeemed for one month of unlimited game play. It can also be traded or sold to any player in-game (who can in turn redeem it or trade it). A percentage of WoT purchases will be donated to a charitable cause, which will be identified on our website and rotated periodically, but could include something like

    Last updated:
  • We’ve put a lot of thought into this, talked to our community, and come up with the model that makes the most sense for ToA. Free to play is great for some games, but given ToAs nature any sort of cash shop would either be pay-to-win, or severely damage the in-game potential of innovations (we want players making, selling, and innovating those cosmetic items).

    Last updated:
  • ToA will be distributed via download only. There will be no physical version of the game. We are trying to keep fulfillment costs to a minimum and this was one way we could achieve that.

    Last updated:
  • We are developing ToA for the PC. Mac and Linux versions might be considered post-launch.

    Last updated:
  • Absolutely! We have pared down the design to its essentials and the list of art assets (which typically eat up a significant portion of the budget) are minimal when compared to your average MMO.

    Our chosen engine has allowed us set an incredible development speed.

    Marketing usually takes a huge chunk out of a game's budget. We have grown ToA by word of mouth and nothing more. We will continue that approach through development, so all funds will go to the building of the game, not to buy mega-booths at trade shows and the like.

    Lastly, building a sandbox MMO is cheaper than a big themepark. Early on we adapted a "less is more" philosophy to our designs and development approach and so far it has paid off in spades.

    Last updated:
  • Yes. If you pledge at the Alpha level you will also have access to Beta Gold and Beta Silver. If you pledge at the Beta Gold level you will also have access to Beta Silver.

    Last updated:
  • When our Kickstarter campaign has concluded, we will send you a survey so you can tell us what add-ons you would like. After verifying everything is correct, we will email you a list of redemption codes, one for each add-on.

    Once the game launches, you will be able to enter your redemption codes with at any treasury.

    Last updated:
  • Yes. What you do with the redemption codes we email you is your business.

    Last updated:
  • If we achieve our funding goal, we will open a PayPal option on our website.

    Last updated:
  • You must add it to your pledge.

    Last updated:

Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5 USD


    Our sincere thanks for helping to make Trials of Ascension a reality!

    Your forum account will be given a custom forum badge.

    Your name will be listed in the Special Thanks section of the game credits (copper level).

    Estimated delivery
    24 backers
  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25 USD


    You get all the NOVICE rewards plus...

    A digitally delivered high-res image of our poster.

    A Kickstarter exclusive in-game tabard.

    A month of access to the game via a free subscription.

    Estimated delivery
    48 backers
  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50 USD


    You get all the APPRENTICE rewards plus...

    SILVER BETA ACCESS allowing you to see TerVarus before the masses. Many would call this late closed beta.

    A physical commemorative coin showing you are a silver level beta tester. These coins are numbered so the earlier your pledge, the lower your coin's number will be!

    A PDF version of our collectors book filled with lore, concepts, renderings, stories of development and much more.

    A character name of your choice (subject to approval) will be permanently recorded in the monolith.

    6 Add-On Points to spend on any of our add-ons.

    Your listing in the special thanks section of the game credits will be upgraded to silver.

    Estimated delivery
    84 backers
  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $75 or more About $75 USD


    You get all the JOURNEYMAN rewards plus...

    We'll mail you a personalized thank you postcard letting you know how much we appreciate you and your efforts to help make ToA a reality.

    Give us a name (subject to approval) and we will put it into the pool of names used for NPCs.

    4 more Add-On Points (for a total of 10) to spend on any of our add-ons.

    Digitally delivered high-res version of various pieces of concept art.

    Estimated delivery
    7 backers
  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100 USD


    You get all the EXPERT rewards plus...

    Your BETA ACCESS is upgraded to GOLD level, allowing you into the game immediately after alpha testing is complete!

    A physical commemorative coin showing you are a gold level beta tester. These coins are numbered so the earlier your pledge, the lower your coin's number will be!

    5 more Add-On Points (for a total of 15) to spend on any of our add-ons.

    Your listing in the special thanks section of the game credits will be upgraded to gold.

    1 additional month of game access via a free subscription (for a total of 2 months).

    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    70 backers
  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $200 or more About $200 USD


    You get all the VETERAN rewards plus...

    ALPHA ACCESS! Your gold beta access will be replaced with access to ToA before it's even a game! You'll be involved in helping us test just about every aspect of every feature! Due to the sensitive nature of alpha access, a signed Non-disclosure Agreement (NDA) will be required and you cannot own or work for a company that creates video games.

    A physical commemorative coin showing you are an alpha tester. These coins are numbered so the earlier your pledge, the lower your coin's number will be!

    1 additional month of game access via a free subscription (for a total of 3 months).

    20 more Add-On Points (for a total of 35) to spend on any of our add-ons.

    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 50 backers
  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $300 or more About $300 USD


    If you like collecting the physical rewards, you've just hit the jackpot! You get all the MASTER rewards plus...

    A t-shirt with a custom design exclusive to Kickstarter.

    A signed and numbered 24" x 36" poster.

    A small tombstone you can place near your computer that will allow you to count down the number of lives your character has left.

    A signed and numbered cloth map of TerVarus.

    A signed and numbered concept art piece.

    A signed and numbered collector's book filled with various art, stories of development, lore and much more.

    20 more Add-On Points (for a total of 55) to spend on any of our add-ons.

    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    16 backers
  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $400 or more About $400 USD


    You get all the COLLECTOR rewards plus...

    A small house located within one of the starting settlements. The house will be on a small plot of land that you will also own. House locations will be selected on a "first pledge, first pick" basis.

    A Kickstarter exclusive house sign design you can hang outside any house(s) you own.

    20 more Add-On Points (for a total of 75) to spend on any of our add-ons.

    3 additional months of game access via a free subscription (for a total of 6 months).

    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    6 backers
  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500 USD


    You get all the GUARDIAN rewards plus...

    Your small plot of land and house will be upgraded to a medium house and plot. Medium house locations will be selected on a "first pledge, first pick" basis.

    A name of your choosing (subject to approval) and a description created by us will be placed on a headstone somewhere in the world of TerVarus.

    Your listing in the special thanks section of the game credits will be upgraded to platinum.

    20 more Add-On Points (for a total of 95) to spend on any of our add-ons.

    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    6 backers
  10. Select this reward

    Pledge $750 or more About $750 USD


    You get all the CONQUEROR rewards plus...

    With your help we will design a crest that is uniquely yours to apply to any in-game item that will accept crests (banners, shields, tabards, etc). You will be the only person in the whole game that can put your unique crest onto items and it can never be taken away from you.

    Your medium plot of land and house will be upgraded to a large house and plot. This is a lot of house and land! Large house locations will be selected on a "first pledge, first pick" basis.

    50 more Add-On Points (for a total of 145) to spend on any of our add-ons.

    6 additional months of game access via a free subscription (for a total of 12 months).

    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    15 backers
  11. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000 USD


    You get all the CHAMPION rewards plus...

    We will create a custom statue of a character of your description (subject to approval) that others may build in game! We will also create a lore story of the character and inject it into the lore of TerVarus.

    55 additional Add-On Points (for a total of 200) to spend on any of our add-ons.

    12 additional months of game access via a free subscription (for a total of 24 months).

    Estimated delivery
    5 backers
  12. Select this reward

    Pledge $2,500 or more About $2,500 USD


    You get all the HERO rewards plus...

    Design an artifact! There are magic items, then there are artifacts. These items are capable of immense and terrifying power. You will work with the design team to create and name an item of legendary power!

    Your deeds for the survival of TerVarus are legendary and should never be forgotten. That's why your custom-built statue will be upgraded to a monument that will be no less than 30 feet tall!

    300 additional Add-On Points (for a total of 500) to spend on any of our add-ons.

    12 additional months of game access via a free subscription (for a total of 36 months) renewable for $1 per year.

    Estimated delivery
    3 backers
  13. Select this reward

    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000 USD


    You get all the LEGEND rewards plus...

    We will add a new starting settlement area to the world (in the biome of your choosing) and hand over the keys to a pre-built settlement on the server of your choice. The settlement will include some basic walls, a treasury, a barracks, and a few private residences that you can do with whatever you wish.

    500 additional Add-On Points (for a total of 1,000) to spend on any of our add-ons.

    Estimated delivery
    Limited 1 backer
  14. Select this reward

    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000 USD


    You get all the IMMORTAL rewards plus...

    Directly partake in the forging of the chaos! Join us at our studio for a full day of fun as you play the game, get to know the developers, get a peek at behind-the-scenes information, and much more. You must provide your own transportation to the studio. Due to the sensitivity of the information you will be exposed to, you will be required to sign our Non-disclosure and Visitor Conduct agreements. We will work with you to schedule your visit.

    We will record your voice for use in TerVarus.

    A one-of-a-kind piece of ToA artwork sized at roughly 36"x48" will be commissioned, signed, professionally framed, and shipped to you.

    1,000 additional Add-On Points (for a total of 2,000) to spend on any of our add-ons.

    Estimated delivery
    Limited 2 backers

Funding period

- (30 days)